In trying to explain what personal injury law is, a good place to start is by saying what it isn’t. If you’re a fan of police shows like Law & Order or Castle that’s exactly what Personal Injury isn’t. In a personal injury case, there doesn’t have to be any suggestion of wrongdoing in the sense of a law being broken.
Although it is possible that there is an element of criminal negligence (we’ll talk about those words in a moment) there doesn’t have to be any criminal activity at all. Personal Injury is an area of civil law.
Criminal vs. Civil Law
One of the first differences between criminal and civil law is the names people get. In a criminal court, the government in the form of its legal machinery is taking action – or is prosecuting a case against a defendant, someone who has to defend themselves.
In a civil case, a plaintiff or someone who is making a complaint is involved in litigation against a defendant. The defendant will be arguing just as strongly they have behaved correctly and therefore are not negligent.
What is Negligence?
At its most simple, negligence is a failure to take the proper levels of care and attention. If the defendant is found to be negligent, they are judged to have failed to take the required levels of care and as a result, might have damages assessed against them.
Imagine someone who has a supposedly vicious breed of dog, a dog they kept carefully in an area where the dog couldn’t cause any real harm. Then imagine some unfeeling people provoking the dog to the point it attacked them. The plaintiff might accuse the dog owner of being negligent in allowing the dog to be accessible. But the dog owner would argue he kept the dog in a manner that was safe. The dog wouldn’t have attacked without the provocation – so he wasn’t negligible.
Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal Injury attorneys are able to negotiate the ins and outs of the law. They will often be able to see based on their knowledge of the law whether or not a prospective plaintiff has a case, that is whether their complaint will stand in court.
That’s often why personal injury attorneys will often take a case on a no-win-no-fee basis. They are pretty sure from the outset there is a case to answer.